Who was Will McLaury, the Texas lawyer and brother of “Cowboys” Frank and Tom, who were gunned down in Tombstone?

Glade Fawson

Riverton, Utah

William Rowland McLaury was born in New York State in 1844 and grew up in Iowa. He served, but did not see action, in the Civil War. McLaury farmed in the Dakotas before he became an attorney and moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

For Will, 1881 was a tough year. His wife died in the summer, leaving him with three small children, and then his younger brothers were killed in October. He headed for Tombstone, Arizona, to help out in the court case against his brother’s killers, the Earps and Doc Holliday. Some feel that he hurt the prosecution more than he helped; the defendants were set free.

McLaury was bitter about the decision. Rumors raged that he was behind the shooting of Virgil Earp and the assassination of Morgan Earp, but history records little evidence of that. He returned to Fort Worth, later became a judge and then moved to Oklahoma during the boom days. He died in Snyder in 1913. Dr. Gary Roberts, in his fine biography Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend, was the first to publish a photograph of Will McLaury, courtesy of McLaury researcher Paul L. Johnson.

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